God is Justice not Love

 

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The option for the poor comes from the first centuries of Christianity. It is the Gospel itself,” said then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio during a 2010 deposition in a human rights trial. He said that if he were to repeat “any of the sermons from the first fathers of the church, from the 2nd or 3rd century, about how the poor must be treated, they would say that mine would be Maoist or Trotskyite.”

The new pope cuts to the chase.

The gospel is social justice. It’s what got Jesus murdered and why he did not live to an old age. The “malkuta Yahweh” commonly called the  “kingdom” or “Godly rule” is about justice, access to the  world’s goods which are skewed in favour of the privileged north. In Jesus time they were captured and hoarded  by the Roman empire and its minions. God’s rule on the contrary  demanded a just reconfiguration, a redustribution—”on earth  as it is in heaven.”

North Americans and conservative Catholics sentimentalize the gospel by  using the word “love” as Jesus’s message. And it’s primarily interpersonal. never structural or global.Well, we love Coke and dogs love Alpo, in other words “love” is a totally bastardized and inadequate word. Nobody gets crucified for “love”—but justice is another problem. God’s will  gets you into trouble.

Love in the New Testament as in last Sunday’s gospel–”Love one another as I have loved you”— is operational not simply emotional.It demands sharing. Contemporary usage born of massive advertising has cheapened the word LOVE.The real meaning is closer  is closer to justice.God is justice.

John Dominic Crossan says, “Think of justice as the body of love and love as the soul of justice”. Alfred North Whitehead’s “Justice is love grown imaginative”  hits the mark as  well. Crossan again, “Justice without love or love without justice is a moral corpse.That is why justice without love becomes brutal and love without justice becomes banal.”

In our privileged lives we don’t want justice. Parishes settle for charity because there is a terrible price to be paid for advocating  justice.The kingdom  will always be a tough sell in North America.We’re a resurrected people aren’t we? Not without the cross, not without justice.

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1 Comment »

  1. 1
    jasmurphy Says:

    I’ve always remembered Ted’s observation in one of his New Times articles from 30 or so years ago, that Christ’s mission (and ours) was/is to “love the world to justice”. Thanks for the reminder Ted.


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